Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I cannot find the word 'marriage': can you?

The following has been signed by 3500 leaders representing 50 religious traditions. This link, pointed out by Stand Firm, lists who have signed it, including many people from the Anglican Communion.

Please read below. I cannot see the word 'marriage' mentioned among its sentiments and statements (many of which are unexceptional, some of which could be controversial in some quarters). Can you find this word?

Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

Sexuality is God's life-giving and life-fulfilling gift. We come from diverse religious communities to recognize sexuality as central to our humanity and as integral to our spirituality. We are speaking out against the pain, brokenness, oppression, and loss of meaning that many experience about their sexuality.

Our faith traditions celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. We sin when this sacred gift is abused or exploited. However, the great promise of our traditions is love, healing, and restored relationships.

Our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

God hears the cries of those who suffer from the failure of religious communities to address sexuality. We are called today to see, hear, and respond to the suffering caused by violence against women and sexual minorities, the HIV pandemic, unsustainable population growth and over-consumption, and the commercial exploitation of sexuality.

Faith communities must therefore be truth seeking, courageous, and just. We call for:

Theological reflection that integrates the wisdom of excluded, often silenced peoples, and insights about sexuality from medicine, social science, the arts and humanities.

Full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex unions.

Sexuality counseling and education throughout the lifespan from trained religious leaders.

Support for those who challenge sexual oppression and who work for justice within their congregations and denomination.

Faith communities must also advocate for sexual and spiritual wholeness in society. We call for:

Lifelong, age appropriate sexuality education in schools, seminaries, and community settings.

A faith-based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights, including access to voluntary contraception, abortion, and HIV/STD prevention and treatment.

Religious leadership in movements to end sexual and social injustice.

God rejoices when we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and integrity. We, the undersigned, invite our colleagues and faith communities to join us in promoting sexual morality, justice, and healing.


Anonymous said...

Peter, many thanks for this.

The absence of any reference to marriage is staggering. 2 millenia of Christian reflection on sexuality are simply pushed aside in order to affirm an understanding of sexuality that has little or no grounding in the Christian tradition.

The opening line is also worth considering: "Sexuality is God's life-giving and life-fulfilling gift". One is tempted to say that for Christians the Holy Spirit is God's life-giving gift!

Also staggering is the reference to abortion, celebrating it as "a faith based commitment". Yes, Christians can debate how we should respond to legal abortion in many of our societies. But to affirm abortion ...?

Peter Carrell said...

It does beggar belief!

Anonymous said...

There's not reference to 'Jesus' or 'Christianity' either. I am tempted to say this is a roundup of the usual suspects - Metropolitan Community Church, Universal Unitarians, liberal protestants - but there is also a sprinkling of ex-evangelicals like Nancy Hardesty who have followed the logic of feminism into affirming same sex relationships.
When we move from the text of Scripture (as inspired utterance) into abstracted, 'degenderized' principles ('love' 'respect', 'rights' etc), then we cease to consider what it means that the human race is dimorphic and what the male-female relationship constituted in creation signifies.
That is why there is no reference to "marriage".
This is one of the critical weaknesses of Protestant (including evangelical) theology today: gender indifferentism. Catholic and Orthodox theology are mcuh more reflective on this than the average Protestant today (and I comment here as an evangelical). I have resisted drawing any connection between WO and SSB's, but I feel more like Canute each day.

Peter Carrell said...

That would be Canute and the ebbing tide of the sea of faith ... :)

Anonymous said...

"That would be Canute and the ebbing tide of the sea of faith ... :)"

No, that was Capute (Kaputt) or Cupitt or Stupitt, something like that. The floodtide (kataklusmos) was flowing the other way for Canute.